2019 has been an important year as far as the public transport system in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is concerned. On February 10, the last stretch (10 km)— from AG-DMS to Washermanpet—of Chennai Metro’s Phase I project (45.1 km) was thrown open to the public, making Chennai the city with the third largest Metro network in India after Delhi and Hyderabad.
The year has also seen plans for its Phase II project being finalised and work getting underway on the 118.9-km network (128 stations) that would cost Rs 69,180 crore and is expected to be complete by 2026. Further, the efforts of the Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL) to boost last-mile connectivity on the two corridors that are operational seem to have borne fruit, with an increasing number of commuters using the shared auto and taxi services that have been launched on select Metro stations so far.
The three corridors—Madhavaram to Sipcot (45.8 km with 26.72 km underground), Lighthouse to Poonamallee (26.1 km with 10.07 km underground) and Madhavaram to Sholinganallur (47 km with 5.83 km underground)—comprising Phase II of the project would link remote suburban areas with the core localities of the capital—for instance the Madhavaram- Sholinganallur corridor is expected to drastically cut travel time between the two areas (more than 2 hours by road).
With the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) agreeing to provide a loan assistance of Rs 20,196 crore for the Madhavaram to Sholinganallur corridor (35.67 km) and the Madhavaram to CMBT stretch (16.34 km) under the Phase-II project, construction work over a length of 52.01 km will begin before the end of this year. The 52.01-km stretches, which would provide connectivity to the eastern parts of the city including the IT hub at OMR, are to have 55 stations in all, both elevated and underground. While the CMRL has begun soil testing for construction work, a detailed project report is being given final shape, sources said.
The Chennai Metro has seen ridership rise consistently since its first stretch was thrown open to the public in June, 2015— the two corridors that are operational at present extend from Washermenpet to Airport (23.1 km) and Chennai Central to St.Thomas Mount (22.0 km) while work on a 9-km extension from Washermanpet to Thiruvottriyur is expected to be complete by mid next year. Ridership has been aided by the world-class infrastructure facilities CMRL has made available, as also a number of initiatives, including launch of last-mile connectivity services.
A total of seven Metro stations have seen shared auto feeder service being launched, with commuters having to pay a flat tariff of `5. Similarly, shared taxi feeder service is being offered at six Metro rail stations, covering an area of up to 3 km radius at a flat tariff of `10. According to CMRL, 89,229 passengers utilised these shared feeder services in the months of March and April this year. The CMRL plans to extend them these services to all 32 Metro stations soon.